Iditarod re-start moved from Wasilla to Willow

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2001

WASILLA (AP) -- Warm, windy weather in recent days washed away more than a foot of snow in Wasilla, forcing organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move the race's re-start to Willow.

The Iditarod Trail Committee called a special meeting of the Board of Directors Tuesday to discuss rapidly deteriorating trail conditions around Wasilla.

It was the fourth time in the last eight years a decision was made to move the re-start to Willow.

Rich Koch, president of the committee, said trail conditions had gone downhill around Wasilla in the last day or two.

''We have an obligation to the dog teams and mushers to re-start the race in an area where we consider trail conditions to be good, particularly in the early miles of the race,'' he said.

Sunday's re-start will be staged beginning at 11 a.m. on Willow Lake behind the Willow Community Center. From Willow Lake, mushers will cross Long Lake, Crystal Lake and Vera Lake. Once the mushers leave Vera Lake they will travel to the Susitna River and on to the Yentna River.

Organizers did not make changes in Saturday's ceremonial start, which will be held in downtown Anchorage at 10 a.m.

Race officials, however, continue to be concerned about the condition of the trail to Eagle River. There is a possibility that the race will be shortened further and mushers won't go to Eagle River, as happened in 1994, said executive director Stan Hooley.

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